Respect begins at home

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 31 March, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 31 March, 2001, 12:00am

Standards of behaviour among young Western and Chinese children towards their helpers need attention. Last week, I watched a domestic helper meet her four-year-old charge after school. The little boy did not greet her or smile. He simply shrugged off his school bag and let it fall to the floor. The helper picked up the little boy's bag and followed him down the road. This was rude, brattish behaviour but unfortunately not an isolated incident. I had to think that he must have learned to act this way from his parents. Young children mirror their folks and if their mother or father treats someone with disrespect, they will too.

Filipina helpers have a hard time working in Hong Kong. They are often treated like second-class citizens, and despite performing a valuable service for people here, are forced on to the perimeters of our society.

Unless we want our children to grow up as racists, we must start thinking about the examples we set for them, such as respect for others.

When both parents work they have little choice but to arrange for a helper to collect their children from school. We might not be there to collect them, but we can teach them how to behave before they become older and too set in these ways.